Karen Loomis is a specialist in musical instrument research, with expertise in historical harps. She is dedicated to helping harp builders and musicians rediscover the sound world of the historical wire-strung harps of Ireland and Scotland. For her PhD dissertation at the University of Edinburgh, Dr. Loomis did groundbreaking analysis of the construction and craftsmanship of the Queen Mary and Lamont harps in the National Museum of Scotland. By using modern technology to unlock the secrets of these historical instruments she has become known a forensic harp sleuth! She also holds a BSc in Physics and an MA in Astronomy as well. Karen strives to advance our knowledge and understanding of the Irish harp, and is daily motivated in her work by all who seek to recreate its magnificent sound. We "virtually" attended her captivating presentation revealing her latest discoveries for the Festival of Early Irish Harp last summer in Kilkenny, Ireland. Her research is published in peer reviewed journals, and was featured in the 2016 BBC documentary, Scotland’s Treasures. She has a chapter in the forthcoming book, The Eglantine Table: Elizabethan Musical Instruments in Marquetry at Hardwick Hall (Boydell & Brewer), edited by Christopher Page and Michael Fleming. Karen is currently secretary of the Historical Harp Society of Ireland.
Presenter website: Karen Loomis
Lisa Lynne is a multi-instrumentalist and performer, recognized for composing memorable and heartwarming melodies on the Windham Hiill/Sony music labels that have repeatedly placed in the Top 10 & Top 20 on the Billboard New age music charts. Lisa’s music is heard throughout the award winning PBS special “Alone in the Wilderness,” amongst many other soundtracks for commercial television and independent films. Her work in therapeutic music has gained recognition from the national press and she is founder and director of “Harps for Hearts” an innovative music program that places live music and musicians in several California hospitals, including City of Hope National Cancer Center and several Kaiser Permanente locations. Lisa tours year round and performs regularly with Aryeh Frankfurter, Patrick Ball and the Windham Hill tours. In spite of a busy tour schedule, she manages to find the time to run her own record label Lavender Sky Music. Her blog is full of fun videos and escapades from her travels. She'll be performing in concert with Aryeh Frankfurter.
Presenter website: Lisa Lynne
John Metras is the quintessential public school music teacher who by needs must be a multi-instrumentalist and yet he has distinguished himself by being professionally accomplished on any instrument he picks up, including harp! He graduated as a guitar major from University of San Francisco, took an M.A. in Music Education from Holy Names College and has a teaching credential from San Francisco State University and National Board Certification for Elementary band. He has performed extensively on the guitar, accordion, piano and harp does early music, pop, jazz, show tunes and big band music. He is the principal guitarist in the Gravenstein Mandolin Ensemble and has written well over a dozen arrangements for mandolin orchestra. He won first place in the Lyon and Healy International Pop and Jazz Harpfest in Salt Lake City in the non-pedal harp division in 2004, playing his set on the cross-strung harp. He has promoted the cross-strung harp nationwide and has written numerous books of arrangements including 3 books of classical music for the cross-strung harp and a method for the cross-strung harp. His 2007 CD Paths Crossing is performed entirely on the cross-strung harp and Guitar Transitions a 2015 recording of popular music on the classical guitar. Welcome back to John!
Presenter website: John Metras
Cuban born Alfredo Ortiz is one the leading Paraguayan harpists and has a multi-cultural repertoire which covers the folk, classical and popular music of many countries, in addition to his own compositions. He began playing the Venezuelan folk harp at 15, four years after his family emigrated there, and he eventually used music to support his medical studies. Dr. Ortiz also has a background in music therapy and sensory motor integration, which he draws on in his body/harp workshops. His compositions and publications are used in many schools and by many harp ensembles around the world. In 2008, he was commissioned by the Tenth World Harp Congress to compose a piece, which was then performed by 232 harpists at the Congress, breaking a record in the Guinness Book of World Records. When not performing with symphonies and orchestras, doing concerts or recording, Dr. Ortiz is traveling and doing lectures and master classes. In 2011, in honor of his 50 years of contributions to the harp community, Alfredo was awarded the very first Lifetime Achievement Award by the Somerset Folk Harp Festival.
Presenter website: Alfredo Rolando Ortiz
Christa Patton, originally a classically trained oboist, was always drawn to the ancient sound of double reeds. While her brother was collecting recordings of classic rock, Christa was searching for LPs of crumhorns and shawms. A late bloomer as a harpist, Christa was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study the Baroque harp with Mara Galassi in Milan, Italy just as she was turning 40. She is a noted historical harpist and early wind specialist who has performed with many of today’s premier early music ensembles including Piffaro the Renaissance Band, Early Music New York, Boston Camerata, The King’s Noyse, Folger Consort, Newberry Consort, Apollo’s Fire, Parthenia, ARTEK and Chatham Baroque. Since one of her specialties is 17th century opera on Baroque harps, Christa has performed with New York City Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Atelier and the Opera Theater of Saint Louis. She is musical director of the Baroque Opera Workshop at Queens College, focusing on the works of early 17th century composers. Christa has been on the faculty of Rutgers University as well as the Madison Early Music Festival, Amherst Early Music Festival and Pinewoods Early Music Week, among others. She is a past president of the Historical Harp Society. She has toured throughout the Americas, Europe, and Japan. She presented as part of the Historical Harp Society's Conference held here at Somerset last year. This is her first time on our roster.
Presenter website: Christa Patton
Laurie Riley is a long-time multi-instrumentalist who has toured extensively wearing a number of musical hats. In 1981 she saw the unique music possibilities of the harp and immersed herself in that world and has the distinction of being a pioneer in two different areas of the harp realm. Laurie led in the teaching and practice of therapeutic music as a bedside service in hospitals, and founded accredited therapeutic music certification programs that train musicians for hospital work. She was a charter member of the National Standards Board for Therapeutic Music. Laurie was instrumental, literally, in the creation of the contemporary double-strung harp in 1990 and has been a leading player and teacher of this instrument, with a must-have popular instructional video and music collections. The volume of her published CDs, videos and music books on a variety of topics in her sphere of influence is astounding and you'll be able to get them all at her festival booth in the Exhibit Hall. She is a leading expert on ergonomics, She received our Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.
Presenter website: Laurie Riley Music
Ailie Robertson is a well-rounded musician in the broadest sense: composer, arranger, teacher, improviser and harp virtuoso. Her synthesis of Scottish, Irish and contemporary harping technique into an individual style garnered her LiveIreland’s ‘Female Musician of the Year 2019'. She represents the realization of “otherwise unimagined possibilities for the Celtic harp,” says Niall Keegan at the Irish World Academy at the University of Limerick. It's not hype to call her an award-winning player! Among her impressive credentials are a first prize at the inaugural London Harp Competition, "best overall musician" at the Edinburgh Competition Festival and the award for ‘Innovation in Traditional Music’ in the 2019 Scottish Awards for New Music. She represented Commun na Clarsach for Scotland at the Pan Celtic Festival in Ireland, and was awarded a scholarship from the ESU in recognition of her ‘virtuosic clarsach playing’. Ailie's debut album First Things First won the LiveIreland award for ‘Instrumental Cut of the Year’. Her other two CDs are Little Lights and Traditional Spirits. She has published 6 volumes of harp music, which you'll be able to get at our festival, and taught at harp festivals in Europe, Canada, the USA and Australia. We're glad Ailie's globetrotting finally has her at Somerset!
Presenter website: Ailie Robertson
As one of the pioneers of the American folk harp, Kim Robertson’s style and approach to the instrument is uniquely personal and original. Trained classically on piano and orchestral harp, she brings a contemporary touch to both her original compositions and her arrangements of Celtic music. Her skill and stage presence as a performer has brought her a loyal following and she is an experienced and sensitive teacher as well. She has many CDs, among them Highland Heart, Shady Grove and Shall We Gather as well as numerous volumes of harp arrangements and several instructional videos. Though she makes her home in Wisconsin, she spends a good deal of the year touring both as a solo artist and with other performers. Kim has presented and performed at nearly every Somerset festival, and with good reason! She's got a clear style and can get everybody, seemingly effortlessly, working together and learning with humor and grace. No matter what the topic, her workshops are packed. Kim received our Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.
Presenter website: Kim Robertson